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Congress Recognizes the Importance of Pediatric Early Literacy Programs

ESSA AnnouncementWe're thrilled at the overwhelming bipartisan support for a bill that recognizes the importance of pediatric early literacy promotion. President Obama has just signed into law the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, titled the Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177), that seeks to ensure the provision of a quality education for all children.

Significantly, this bill authorizes the Reach Out and Read model in federal education policy for the first time. In signing the bill, President Obama talked about expanding access to early childhood education as one of its three aims. Increasingly, research shows that the foundation children need to succeed in school and beyond is built in the early years, from infancy. We are pleased that Reach Out and Read has been recognized as a leader in the field of early learning, and that our model, reaching families with young children through pediatric care, is recognized in this important legislation.

Inclusion of pediatric early literacy promotion in this act is fully consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics' policy statement, published in 2014, recommending that pediatricians incorporate book promotion and literacy guidance as an essential element of pediatrics starting in infancy.

We have received amazing, bipartisan support on our journey to this point:  we are grateful to U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who have tirelessly supported early literacy services for children, and have been the leading advocates in the Senate for Reach Out and Read for over 15 years; to U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D- MA-02), who has championed Reach Out and Read in the House for well over a decade; and to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), who were instrumental in ensuring support for pediatric early literacy intervention in the Every Student Succeeds Act in their roles on the education committees.

"Literacy is the foundation for learning. Developing and building these skills begins at home, with parents as the first teachers…..This initiative empowers parents to help their kids, and provides them with free books to get started." 

--Senator Jack Reed.

We believe that this act will bring us closer to our vision of a day when all children will know what it's like to explore a book in the arms of someone who loves them!

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Giving Books Should Be as Routine as Giving Immunizations

 

Reach Out and Read is changing the way pediatrics is practiced by giving medical providers an evidence-based strategy to promote healthy child development.

Giving Books Should Be as Routine..

Twenty six years ago, two Boston Medical Center pediatricians recognized their unique opportunity to have an impact on the development, as well as on the health, of the children they served. They adopted a simple model of prescribing books and reading aloud as a means of fostering the language-rich interactions between parents and their young children that stimulate early brain development. 

The effectiveness of this model has been established by peer-reviewed, published studies showing that the children served are read to more often by their parents, have improved language skills, and a greater love of reading.

Over the last two decades, the Reach Out and Read model has been widely adopted by the pediatric healthcare community. The program is now practiced by 21,000 medical providers, at 5,500 program sites across the nation, and is spreading rapidly. In 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics promoted our program in a policy statement "Literacy Promotion: An Essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice", that stated:

"By initiating early support for reading aloud….pediatric providers can leverage their unique opportunity to influence children in the very early years of life."

We are committed to continuing to improve our influence on childhood development by supporting research into the impact of early literacy promotion through our Reach Out and Read Young Investigator Awards.

This year, significant interest was generated by groundbreaking research  from one of our Reach Out and Read Young Investigator awardees at the Pediatric Academic Societies conference. Dr. John Hutton, working at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, used MRI imaging of young children's brains to show that reading aloud is associated with differences in brain activity that supports early reading skills.

There were a number of other research presentations at the meeting based on Reach Out and Read, and, as Dr. Tom DeWitt, co-chair of the Reach Out and Read board commented "It's exciting to see so many people exploring different aspects of the intervention - and further evidence of the way that Reach Out and Read has become embedded in pediatric practice and good quality care".

Written by Nikki Shearman at 09:30

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Reach Out and Read National Center
89 South St, Suite 201
Boston, MA 02111